Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CIA Destroys Torture Tapes, Experiencing Waterboarding, Colorado Shootings, Immigration And Spin, And Raw Politics (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everybody. We kick it off tonight with Anderson Cooper telling us about the latest scandal to hit Washington this year. I believe this is number 289. So okay, it's just come to light that the CIA destroyed tapes of "interrogations" of terror suspects after they told officials who requested them (including the 9-11 Commission) the tapes didn't exist. Obviously, this does not look good. In an Ed Henry piece we learn that CIA head Michael Hayden got raked over the coals by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill today. Also, former CIA officer John Kiriakou has come forward to make things even stickier for his prior employers. He claims waterboarding was used on al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah and it amounted to torture. But he also said it worked, so you kind of have to question his motives. Everybody's got an agenda.

As for the White House, they're still sticking by the ridiculous "the U.S. does not torture" line. Because if they just close their eyes and click their heels three times, it's true. Press secretary Dana Perino says the interrogations performed were done within the "legal framework." But she won't comment on waterboarding. Except of course, one has to assume that if Kiriakou says they waterboarded and Perino says the interrogations were legal, than the administration must believe waterboarding is legal. But we don't torture.

While this itself is a lot to take in, there's even more that's kind of been overlooked. You know that Abu Zubaydah guy? According to Ron Suskind, he's crazy. And I don't mean thinks-he-can-blow-up-stuff-and-end-up-in-heaven-with-virgins crazy. I mean, keeps-a-diary-written-by-his-multiple-personalities crazy. No, I'm not kidding. The Columbia Journalism Review gave the media a little swat for the lack of context the last time our "interrogation methods" were on the front page. When the dude is more Sybil than he is Bin Laden, it kind of makes him less scary, doesn't it?

Another angle not getting much play might seem a little tin foil hatty, but hell, I can't believe half the stuff that's actually happened these past seven years, so who knows. Anyway, everyone assumes the CIA destroyed the tapes because they show torture. But what if they destroyed them because of what the suspects said? In his book Why America Slept, Gerald Posner also takes a look at the interrogation of Zubaydah. Posner relays the story of how, in an effort to scare out more confessions, Zubayah was drugged and taken to fake Saudi inquisitors. But upon being presented to these fake Saudis, he wasn't scared at all--in fact he was relieved and proceeded to give up three Saudi princes and a Pakistani as contacts. Why have we not talked with these men? We can't. They're dead. All of them. The three princes all died within days of each other and the Pakistani seven months later. One official cause of death was "thirst." Seriously. I remember first hearing about this over two years ago when Posner was on The Daily Show. Apparently the story went no where back then. Round two?

Back to the show, we've got some legalese with Jeffrey Toobin. Anderson begins by basically asking what the hell is going on. Dude, I ask myself that every day. Toobin notes that after all this time the basic issues concerning torture still haven't been addressed. Such as, uh, what do they define as torture? You know, stuff that would be nice to know. Anderson points out that when other countries did this kind of stuff we'd say they were committing torture. Ah, double standards. Toobin brings up how the new Attorney General almost didn't even get confirmed because he went all wobbly on his torture beliefs. Anderson then talks about how torture got good results from Zubaydah and I start to get my hackles up, but then I forgive him when he says "this is only information we are hearing from authorities, who have a vested interest in saying that it work." Thank you. Because torture only produces whatever the person thinks you want to hear, which Anderson and Toobin subsequently acknowledge. Our officials might waffle on waterboarding as torture, but it's good to see our anchor and senior legal analyst mince no words. It's torture.

Next up, we're joined by former Navy Seal Kaj Larsen of CurrentTV. Kaj has actually undergone waterboarding. Voluntarily. We're then shown the video while Kaj tries to explain what is was like. Basically, he felt like he was going to die. But he still was able to last for 24 minutes before his producer called it off. That's pretty amazing, though Kaj reminds us that someone undergoing it for real would have been exposed to cold and be sleep deprived beforehand--not to mention the fact that they don't know the end result.

Transitioning now to an update on those Colorado shootings and 360 is still using that tacky graphic. Sigh. In an Anderson piece we learn that prior to the shootings Matthew Murray posted a rant on the Internet blaming Christians for the problems of the world. Also, it turns out that he killed himself. Now, while some on the Christian Right are placing blame of the attack on the secular media, 360 points out something that group would like to (and did) overlook: the New Life Church was once headed by Ted Haggard. Yes, meth-buying, male prostitute-hiring, Ted Haggard. It seems the hypocrisy did not sit well with the already very troubled Murray. Anyway, we then get another piece from Anderson on Haggard. Just because, I guess. But I'm not complaining. Show the hypocrites for who they are every chance you get. We do get an update though. Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Haggard are studying online for counseling degrees. "Ted Haggard, a counselor," says Anderson. Heh. he just said a whole lot more than the five words that came out of his mouth.

Gary Tuchman has the headlines tonight and, oh, health scares for $100, Alex. We learn the Jeopardy host was hospitalized after a minor heart attack, but don't worry, he's going to be fine. This bit of news sooooo predictably leads to a mention of Anderson's stint on Celebrity Jeopardy. Gary's the one that brings it up, noting Anderson's modesty. Yeah, right. Anderson probably told him to. "I -- not only did I win. I swept the floor," says our anchor. "OK, you are not that mod -- you are not that modest," admits Gary. Anderson is totally one of those people that throws the disk while playing Catch Phrase. He plays to win, people!

In tonight's edition of "What Were They Thinking?" we first have a nativity thief. Somebody stole mother Mary and a sheep out of nativity in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Wait, a sheep? They didn't even do it right. You're supposed to go for Jesus. No, I've never stolen anything from a nativity. But I thought that happened pretty often. No? Anyway, we then get another video of this dude just blatantly stealing a car in broad daylight right in front of a cop. People are unbelievable.

Moving on now to some immigration talk and we're joined by John King to discuss the current battle between Huckabee and Romney on the subject. Anderson points out how this is all just politics and they both have basically the same views, yet attack each other anyway. John agrees, but notes that Romney emphasizes employer verification and Huckabee emphasizes border security. Anderson has his BS-detector set on sensitive tonight, stating, "This is all just politics. I mean, it's manipulation. It's focusing us, the media and voters on minute parts of an issue to try to avoid talking about the larger issues, on which they're really the same, as you said, going forward." Um, pretty much. John doesn't seem as annoyed. That's okay, Anderson, we hear you.

Keeping with immigration, we have a Gary piece set in Marshalltown, Iowa, where the population is a-changing. In 1990 there were no Mexicans and now over one in five residents are Mexican, some of them here illegally. The mayor says that if the illegal Mexicans are sent back, the town will be short workers. I'm starting to have deja vu with this immigration stuff. And actually the war...and the torture issue...and well, everything. Ever notice how we don't actually solve any problems? We just talk about them in cycles. But for one man, the immigration issue never goes off the front page. That's right, Lou Dobbs! Anderson and Lou then have a conversation with each other where they both just agree back and forth that everything is spin and hype on this issue. I can't watch Lou's show anymore. He's become one of those yelly pundits. I can only stomach one of those and I already watch Olbermann (and he really doesn't yell all that much).

Tom Foreman, as always, has the "Raw Politics" and tonight we're talking about the economy. It seems your political affiliation has a lot to do with whether or not you think we're in a recession. Saying yes to the "R" word are 70 percent of democrats, 56 percent of independents, and 38 percent of republicans. I wonder what would happen to those numbers if, say, Clinton was suddenly magically president, but everything else was the same.

Anderson then previews The Shot, which is Led Zeppelin and he gives us a "Woo!" Dork. On to more headlines from Gary and we learn that Dana Perino heard about the show last night. You might remember Anderson and Gary had some fun with her lack of knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Well, now she says she was exaggerating and we catch her on camera saying, "Anderson Cooper thought it was funny. He was making fun of me." Aw, that actually endears me to her a little bit, dammit. She doesn't want Anderson to think she's stupid. And you know she has a crush on him. Because she's breathing. Heh. Anderson denies he was making fun of her. Uh huh. Gary points out that with the comedy writers on strike, somebody has to have a little fun. Exactly. We need you guys to pick up the slack. I miss my Jon (Stewart). We haven't been apart this long in five years. Sob! And you know the poor guy is going crazy. So much stupidity not being mocked! Pretty soon he's going to have to do what the rest of us poor schmucks who are tired of yelling at our televisions have done: create a blog.

Anderson intros The Shot by telling Gary to "rock on, man" and we're shown footage of the Led Zeppelin reunion. As it turns out, Gary is a huge Zeppelin fan, "I'll ramble on. And that's my philosophy of life," he tells us. Anderson then reveals that Gary's wife has given him some photos of Gary from "back in the day." Ha! Wow, look at that hair. I'm sorry I don't have a screencap. Can't you just picture Gary with a lighter, yelling, play "Stairway to Heaven"? Poor Gary. A guy thinks he's just doing the headlines and next thing he knows a blast from the past is on national television. "I cannot believe my wife gave those up. This is a total surprise. I'm telling my viewers right now. And I will have to talk to her when I get home. But those are authentic photos, yes," says Gary. Mrs. Tuchman is in trouuuble. Oh wait, the wife is always right. Nevermind. Rock on, Mrs. Tuchman.

Suddenly they're showing Anderson's appearance on "To Tell the Truth" and he explains that he believes two game show appearances qualify him to go "go mano-a-mano" with Dana Perino on a history quiz. Oh! He's throwing down the gauntlet. Booyah! I would be there with popcorn. Anyway, then Gary and Anderson awkwardly start talking again about Anderson's "To Tell the Truth" appearance. Man, I don't know quite what the heck all that just was, but it was adorably hilarious. Or maybe I'm just easily amused. In any regards, Erica better watch it because the boys are having way too much fun. The show was pretty good. B+


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Gerald Posner, his reporting on the Zubaydah interrogation has now been independently corroborated by Pulitzer Prize-winner James Risen of the New York Times, in his book State of War (p. 187).

You can read all about it in "Part 4" here:

8:58 PM  

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